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EARLY START WEEKEND: More Unrest in Egypt; Peace Holds In Gaza Conflict; Yasser Arafat's Cause of Death; Larry Hagman Dies; Interview with 'The Other Son' Movie Producer Raphael Berdugo

Aired November 24, 2012 - 06:00   ET


RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: From CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, this is EARLY START WEEKEND.

Egypt on edge. Thousands of furious protesters packed Tahrir Square after their new president makes a bold move for unprecedented power.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Dramatic new video this morning. Look at this. A gas explosion shreds a strip club.


BARBARA BEL GEDDES, ACTRESS, "DALLAS": And you drove Cliff to attempt suicide?

LARRY HAGMAN, ACTOR, "DALLAS": How was I to know he was going to do a dumb thing like that?


KAYE: And TV's original bad boy. Hollywood reacting this morning to the death of "Dallas" star Larry Hagman.

It is Saturday, November 24th. Good morning, everyone. I'm Randi Kaye.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Thank you for starting your morning with us.

KAYE: We begin in Egypt's Tahrir Square this morning where hundreds of protesters have been arrested during anti-government demonstrations. They are angry with their president over his new power grab.

BLACKWELL: Opposition leaders say Mohamed Morsi is now more powerful than former President Hosni Mubarak ever was. This week, leaders around the world praised him for brokering a cease fire between Israel and Hamas. But now that good will is gone.

KAYE: CNN's Reza Sayah has more now from Cairo on Morsi's new powers and the anger it has spurred among his people.

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Randi, Victor, if anyone thought Egyptians were tired or weary of protesting after two years of demonstrations, all you had to do was look at Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday and it was clear that's not the case. Indeed, Egyptian demonstrators appeared to be as determined and energized as ever. And this time, they're going after their current president.


SAYAH (voice-over): Outrage, clashes, and anguish in Tahrir. Thousands of angry Egyptians back in a public square that has become the Arab world's emblem for the democratic right to protest. This was where Egyptians demands the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak last year. This time, the fury aimed at current president, Mohamed Morsi.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're here because we don't want Morsi to rule us anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a one man show and he wants to do everything and nothing at all of what we want, you know?

SAYAH: On Thursday, the new Islamist president made himself the most powerful man in Egypt by announcing sweeping decrees he says are designed to push forward the drafting of Egypt's new constitution and speed up the formation of a government that's still missing a parliament.

SAYAH (on camera): One of President Morsi's decrees bans anyone from overturning any of his declarations since he took over office in June. That order is to stay in place till a parliament is formed. So, technically, it means for now, he can do whatever he wants without any oversight.

RIHAM HAMZA, PROTESTING PRESIDENT'S DECREES: I just felt he was telling us, you guys don't exist. It's just me and my people and there's no place for anybody else in Egypt.

RAGY SOLIMAN, PROTESTING PRESIDENT'S DECREES: We're not allowing for a dictatorship again. Thirty years of dictatorship is enough. Egypt is not going into dictatorship once again.

SAYAH (voice-over): In a separate decree, Morsi banned the breakup of the constitutional assembly, a 100-member panel assigned to draft Egypt's new constitution. Protesters here say the panel favors Islamist factions and ignores demands by liberals, Christians, youth groups and women's rights groups. Some have sued to dissolve the panel. Morsi's decree forbids that.

As nightfall approached, anger turned to violence. In scenes similar to the Egyptian Revolution, protesters clashing with police.

SAYAH (on camera): We're right along one of the major arteries leading into Tahrir Square. Clashes between security forces and protesters, tear gas. And we're moving away.

SAYAH (voice-over): As the protest intensified, Mr. Morsi appealed for calm. In a speech to hundreds of his supporters who gathered outside the presidential palace in Cairo, he defended his decrees and rejected accusations of a power grab.

PRES. MOHAMED MORSI, EGYPT (through translator): I didn't take a decision against anyone or pick a side against another. I have to put myself in a clear path. A path that achieves a clear goal.


SAYAH: Throughout the early morning hours, there were pockets of clashes and the injuries continue to pile-up and many demonstrators pitched tents in Tahrir Square, an indication that these demonstrations could continue through the weekend.

Randi, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Reza Sayah in Cairo for us this morning. Thank you.

KAYE: Now to some sad news from the world of entertainment. Larry Hagman has died. His family says the 81 year old actor died of complications from cancer.


LARRY HAGMAN, ACTOR, "DALLAS": We look forward to having everybody in Dallas laughing at you because they know you're going to have to come crawling to old JR to get that right away.


KAYE: Most of you know him as JR Ewing, one of the best known TV characteristics of the last 30 years. "Dallas" was in a long-running hit, of course, in the '70s and the '80s. Hagman came back as JR when TNT restarted the series earlier this year. You may also remember him as Major Tony Nelson, of course, from "I Dream of Jeannie."

His Jeannie co-star, Barbara Eden, posted this on her Facebook page. "I had the pleasure of watching the Texas tornado that was Larry Hagman. I can honestly say that we've lost not just a great actor, not just a television icon, but an element of pure Americana."

We'll have much more on his life and career later on in the hour.

BLACKWELL: A gas leak is blamed for an explosion at a strip club in Springfield, Massachusetts. Look at this. Center screen. The blast leveled that club. Eighteen people were injured. It's a miracle no one was killed. Twenty-five other buildings were damaged. Our affiliate WGGB says people felt that explosion up to four miles away. A city official says some of the damaged buildings will be demolished today.

Law enforcement officials in one community in Alabama are mourning the loss of their colleague following a shooting that involved two deputies. One of those deputies is in critical condition at a local hospital. But another, Deputy Scott Ward, we have a photograph of him, here he is, he was killed. The county sheriff spoke about Ward's impact on the department.


SHERIFF HOSS MACK BALDWIN COUNTY, ALABAMA: I had personally worked with this deputy a majority of my career. I knew him very well. I'm very proud of him. It's a big loss. But he was doing his job. And we'll pull together in a time like this and we'll honor his memory by carrying on.


BLACKWELL: Michael Janzen, the man police say is responsible for the incident, was also shot during that confrontation. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

KAYE: To politics now and taxes. They are at the heart of the negotiations over the fiscal cliff. Democrats want to raise them for the wealthy. Republicans say no.

BLACKWELL: But now one leading Republican may be breaking ranks. Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss now says a no tax pledge signed by most Republicans is standing in the way of getting a deal done.


SAN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R), GEORGIA (voice-over): Times have changed significantly and I care more about this country than I do about a 20- year-old pledge. I think we owe the debt and we've got to figure out a way to pay it.


KAYE: Specifically, Chambliss was talking about Grover Norquist and his group Americans for Tax Reform. They put out that no tax pledge. Norquist talked about it on CNN's "THE SITUATION ROOM."


GROVER NORQUIST, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: The commitment he made to the people of Georgia was not to me. It was a written commitment to the people of Georgia that he would go to Washington to reduce government spending and reform government, not raise taxes. If he wants to change his mind and become a tax increaser so we don't have to reform government, he needs to have that conversation with the people of Georgia.


KAYE: There are 38 days left till we reach the fiscal cliff. At that point, if there is no deal, there will be automatic tax increases for every American.

BLACKWELL: Police in Tallahassee, Florida, are searching for a gunman who started shooting outside a Wal-Mart on Black Friday. This Wal- Mart. Investigators believe the shooting was sparked by a disagreement over a parking space. They're now looking for a dark green Toyota Camry in connection with the case. Two people were taken to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

And a Target store in Aurora, Colorado, is expected to reopen for business this morning after another shooting incident. Police say a man wearing a black ski mask pulled out a gun and fired a shot into the store's ceiling on Black Friday while customers were inside the store. The suspect got away before he could be arrested. The store was shut down for the rest of the day.

A tenuous peace in the Middle East. Egypt took the lead in getting the deal done between Israel and Hamas. We'll take a look at how that changes the U.S. role in the region.


BLACKWELL: One of the FBI's 10 most wanted fugitives is expected back in the U.S. this weekend. Federal agents snacked Joe Luis Saenz Thursday night in Mexico. He is accused of killing his girlfriend and two rival gang members in L.A. in 1998. He's also wanted in a fourth murder in 2008. Now, the FBI offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.

And in Chicago, police arrested a woman accused of trying to bring a loaded gun through security at O'Hare Airport. Here she is, 65-year- old Sheila Schultz. Local media reports say she was a flight attendant for American Airlines. Now police, though, have not confirmed that. She claimed the gun belonged to her husband and she brought the gun by mistake because it was in a bag they share.

KAYE: To the Middle East now. And the cease-fire is holding for now between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. There have been reports of random gunfire or a couple of rockets fired with no consequence. The tensions and the prospects for the lasting peace is our focus this morning. Joining me now is Fawaz Gerges, professor of Middle East politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Good morning, professor.

Last week you said that the battle and the struggle to stop it showed that there's a new strategic landscape in the region. You also talked about how Israel is now more isolated than it had been in the past. How did those factors, do you think, play out with the peace negotiation?

FAWAZ GERGES, PROFESSOR OF MIDDLE EASTERN POLICIES: Well, I think they played a major role because neither Hamas nor Israel had the epithet for all-out war. And I think the Israeli prime minister, I think, recognized the gravity of a ground invasion of Gaza. And Hamas also recognized that a ground invasion of Gaza would deliver a hard blow.

And both Egypt and the United States played a pivotal role. Egypt because it exercises tremendous influence over Hamas and the United States basically impressed on Prime Minister Netanyahu the need to basically deescalate as opposed to go for a ground invasion.

So both the geostrategic realties on the ground between Israel and between Hamas and also in the region and the international system. The question is, as you said, how do you build on the cease fire? How do you, as Secretary Hillary Clinton said, this is just the first step. What comes after this first step is very critical for both Israel and the Palestinians and for the peace process.

KAYE: Right. What about, though, in terms of who really deserves the credit for getting this deal done and getting this cease-fire agreed upon? Does that lie squarely with Egypt's president? I mean his skill, Mohamed Morsi's skill at navigating this minefield between the two was certainly impressive.

GERGES: Well, I would say that the winner was Morsi. The winner was Egypt, because Egypt was able to play a major role in convincing Hamas and also in trying to impress on Israel that any major ground invasion would have serious repercussions. In the word of the Egyptian president, Mohammed Mori, on Egyptian-Israeli relations. Remember, Egypt is very pivotal. It was the first step -- state to sign a peace treaty with Israel. The Camp David Peace Accords. So in this particular sense, even Israeli prime minister recognized the pivotal role of Egypt.

So, yes, Egypt is very pivotal, but let's not underestimate the role of the Obama administration and his ability to put all the pieces together. Without the United States, I would not -- I would argue there will be no political horizon, that the peace process will not be revived. That's why I'm hoping that President Barack Obama, in his second term, will invest political capital in bringing about -- in helping to bring about a two-state solution, a secure Jewish state and also as independence and viable Palestinian state that deals with the root causes of the fighting between Hamas and Israel.

KAYE: And getting back to Mohamed Morsi and Egypt. I mean, Morsi may be getting pats on the back from the international community, but at home certainly much different right now, declaring a whole lot of power. Did he use the cover of the Israel-Gaza conflict, do you think, to enact his new powers?

GERGES: I have no doubt in my mind that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has proved to be very shrewd and calculating. Using this particular moment that basically everyone praised Morsi. The Americans, the Israelis, the Europeans. He used this particular moment to really make a coup. He anointed himself a supreme leader with absolute power. He's basically trying to re-create an imperial presidency in Egypt.

Remember, what he has done is that there is no authority, no authority in Egypt, that can override any decision that he has made. And, yes, you're absolutely correct. Unfortunately for the Egyptian people, Mohamed Morsi's behavior does not differ very much from that of Mubarak. And that's why what he done basically has, I would argue, exacerbated social and political tensions and widened the cleavages between Morsi and the various political groups in Egypt. This is why Egypt is in turmoil. And, unfortunately for the Egyptian people, I think Egypt remains, I would argue, a work in progresses in terms of democratization and institutionalization.

KAYE: Right. Amazing after all they've been through to see the protesters holding signs about Morsi, calling him a dictator. We will continue to watch this.

Fawaz Gerges, thank you very much.

And next hour, more on the prospects for lasting peace in the Middle East. We'll talk about Iran's role in the region. So be sure to stay with us.

Well, it is one of the hardest decisions a mother could ever face. Now the mother of champion boxer Hector "Macho" Camacho must decide whether her brain dead son should be taken off life support.

BLACKWELL: And, was Yasser Arafat murdered? The Palestinian leader's body will be exhumed within days. We're going to go live to the West Bank.


KAYE: The mother of boxer Hector "Macho" Camacho is facing a heart- wrenching decision, whether to remove her brain dead son from life support. She says she will probably decide what to do today. And that for her, her son is not alive anymore. A gunman shot the 50-year-old Puerto Rican champion in the face on Tuesday. Police are looking for the shooter and another suspect.

BLACKWELL: This is like something out of a James Bond movie. An unexplained death of a world leader and allegations of foul play and poisoning. Was Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat murdered? His body is set to be exhumed from this mausoleum eight years after he mysteriously died.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen joins me now from Ramallah in the West Bank.

Fred, what are investigators looking for here?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're looking for the substance polonium, Victor, which, of course, is a radioactive substance that, in the past, has indeed been used for assassinations. If we look back a couple of years ago, there was the Alexander Litvinenko case, who was a former Russian spy, who was murdered with that same substance, probably by the Russian secret service. That's something that's also still under investigation.

So what the investigators are looking for, they're looking for traces of polonium in his body. Now, that could be quite difficult to find because keep in mind that Yasser Arafat died eight years ago. However, there's been a separate investigation with objects that belonged to Arafat where apparently increases levels of polonium have been found. And that's actually what then set this whole investigation in motion.

So now you have teams coming in here from Russia, from Switzerland, and from France who, under the mantle of the Palestinian Authorities, are going to open Yasser Arafat's grave on Tuesday of this coming week. They are going to take samples and then shut the grave again. All of this happens on the same day. It's, of course, a very emotional day for Palestinians because he is this overarching Palestinian figure, but also a very, very interesting and almost exciting forensic case as well.


BLACKWELL: We know that the investigative committee held a news conference a short time ago. What more are we learning about how they're moving forward?

PLEITGEN: Well, they said that they're moving forward in a way that, first of all, they pushed back the date for when the grave was going to be opened. It was going to be this coming Monday. Now it's this coming Tuesday. They then sort of went through the motions of how all of this is going to be going down. They said what's going to happen is that there's going to be a very ceremonial opening of the grave. Then they're going to take the samples and then Yasser Arafat is going to be laid to rest again with a religious ceremony and a military ceremony as well. So that's sort of the process that's going to go on.

What's going to happen then is that these three forensic teams, the Russian one, the French one and the Swiss one are each going to separately take samples and they are going to take their samples back to their home countries and analyze them there so that there are three separate investigations into all this to get different sort of sample sizes.

Now, what's going to happen then, how long this is going to take especially, is something that the Palestinians have still left open. But one thing that they said is that if, of course, it comes to light that indeed Yasser Arafat was poisoned with polonium, that is going to cause massive emotional reactions here in the Palestinian territories. And then, of course, the big question is, who murdered him, the Palestinians, or at least most of them say they believe that Israel did it. Israel denies this. Of course, it's not going to show who did this. But if it does show that, yes, he was murdered, that's going to lead to a massive investigation and also, of course, very, very emotional and angry reactions here in this part of the world, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Fascinating, Fred, especially at this really sensitive time in the region. Fred Pleitgen live in Ramallah for us this morning. Thanks.

KAYE: The death of a television icon. We'll take a closer look at the long career of Larry Hagman and the role he relished more than any other.


KAYE: It is 29 minutes past the hour. Welcome back, everyone. I'm Randi Kaye.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell, back now with from Thanksgiving. How was the holiday?

KAYE: I'm feeling it.

BLACKWELL: Feeling it a little bit?

KAYE: I sure am.

BLACKWELL: It's all right. It's all right. And a birthday. Happy birthday.

KAYE: Oh, thank you. BLACKWELL: It was good.

KAYE: It was a big week.


KAYE: A week of eating and celebrating for sure. Yes.

BLACKWELL: A lot of good times. All right.

Thanks for starting your day with us. Here are five stories we're watching this morning.

We are seeing rocks versus tear gases in Tahrir Square. Anti- government protesters are facing off with police this morning. The protesters are calling for the removal of President Mohamed Morsi. Now, earlier in the week, Morsi increased his power, saying that none of his decrees could be overturned by the courts. Opposition leaders say Morsi is acting like a dictator.

KAYE: We could know by Monday when the governor of Illinois plans on holding a special election to replace former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. The Democrat from Chicago resigned Wednesday just two weeks after winning re-election citing ongoing mental health problems. He's also being investigated for possible misuse of campaign funds by the FBI. And for the first time he acknowledged that saying he will accept responsibility for his mistakes.

BLACKWELL: Number three, gas rationing in New York City will end today. That's according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The city has been rationing gas by odd and even days since that November 9th. Recovery from Superstorm Sandy is far from complete. More than 30,000 people are still without power in New York and New Jersey. 30,000. And Governor Chris Christie says the storm caused an estimated $29.4 billion in damage in New Jersey.

KAYE: Number four, someone may wake up a multimillionaire tomorrow. The Powerball lottery Jackpot is now a whopping $325 million. That is the fourth largest jackpot in the game's history. You have to buy a ticket before 10:00 p.m. Eastern time tonight to be included in that drawing.

And veteran actor Larry Hagman has died. His family says it was complications from cancer and that he was surrounded by family at the end. Tributes have been rolling in from Hollywood and beyond as friends and co-stars remember the man some affectionately called the Texas tornado. Larry Hagman was 81.

CNN's Colleen McEdwards has more on Hagman's career and the role that made him a household name.


COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Larry Hagman wore many hats in his career. But he's best known for the Stetson that he wore on "Dallas." Despite roles on film and on stage Hagman will always be remembered as the villainous J.R. Ewing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you drove Cliff to attempt suicide?

LARRY HAGMAN, ACTOR: How was I to know he was going to do a dumb thing like that?

MCEDWARDS: When J.R. was shot by an unknown assailant, it became one of the most famous cliffhangers in TV history watched by 300 million people from all around the world. Hagman never expected the show to endure.

HAGMAN: Honey, I just started the show doing six shows. I never thought I would do 300.

MCEDWARDS: In fact, the "Dallas" franchise was so successful, the series was recently reprised. The U.S. network TNT brought it back with a new generation of Ewings, and Hagman came back, too, returning as J.R. once again. Critics say he was the best thing about "Dallas," but explaining the character's appeal Hagman once said the time is right for a real bad guy, and I'm it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have a good day, master.

HAGMAN: Oh, I'm going to have a wonderful day, Jeannie.

MCEDWARDS: It was as a good guy who Larry Hagman blasted into people's living rooms playing astronaut Tony Nelson on "I Dream of Jeannie." The show was a hit in the 1960s and is still popular in syndication. Even as a kid, Hagman orbited in show biz as the son of "Peter Pan" star Mary Martin, his movie roles included "Up in the Cellar" and "Harry and Tonto."

HAGMAN: Now I don't need an office anymore. I'm moving up (ph) now.

MCEDWARDS: It was only after milking a huge contract from the producers of "Dallas" that Hagman became immensely wealthy. He has houses, he had cars, he had vices. Two of them included drinking and smoking. He smoked for 24 years, gave it up and became an anti-smoking activist and spokesman for the American Cancer Society.

HAGMAN: I met at least 30 or 40 people that said they quit because of my personal involvement, which makes me feel really good.

MCEDWARDS: He stopped drinking in 1995 when he was diagnosed with liver cancer and underwent a life-saving transplant.

HAGMAN: If we won in Vietnam, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

How many spots, Jack?

MCEDWARDS: In recent years, Hagman appeared on the big screen in films like "Nixon" and "Primary Colors." But it is his role as the charming and conniving oil man that audiences will never forget. Colleen McEdwards, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE) KAYE: And we will, of course, continue to follow the life and career of Larry Hagman. I'm a big fan of his.

BLACKWELL: Some great roles. I loved him in "Primary Colors," but, of course, "Dallas."

KAYE: Yes. I've been watching the new "Dallas" series, and I guess they're now going to have to write him out of the script, sadly.

BLACKWELL: Yes, we will see how that changes the plot.

Amid fears the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza won't last, we found a place, that's - let's call it a zone of peace where victims from both sides of the border can find some common ground.

This is Tel Aviv's Tel Hashomer Hospital. In one room lies four-year old Israeli Yosif (ph) who lost several fingers and his mother who when a rocket slammed into his apartment at the start of the conflict. And right next door to him is Besan al-Garim (ph), an eight-year-old Palestinian girl who lost three fingers of her own when the war came to her home.

As many as a quarter of the Palestinians -- patients rather, they are Palestinians, many from Gaza who are getting treated side by side with Israelis. The hospital tells us they just treat people. They don't look it where the names - the patients come from.

And regardless of what happens next in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, let's consider this. Let's ask this question. Why do these two sides continue killing each other and why are they perpetually on the brink of war? A new film from Israeli director Lorraine Levy challenges Israeli-Palestinian differences. The plot is two young men, Israeli and Palestinian, discover they were switched at birth. Essentially each man was raised as his enemy.

Producer Raphael Berdugo joins me now.

Thank you for joining us first. And how did this idea for the film originate? What's the message here?


The idea came with short treatments two years ago that my co-producer Benjamin Lacombe (ph) received, and she found this idea very interesting, and we -- she developed the script with an author and then we contacted Lorraine Levy, who was enthusiastic about this idea. And then this idea came like this. In fact, there is no -- there is obviously a message of peace in this film, but after all it's a message of love, you know. And this is not a political movie. It's a humanist movie.

BLACKWELL: Well, essentially, because we're talking about Gaza and Israeli, there is also a political interest in the movie. And you focused on this area, focused on this conflict. What do you think the role of this movie can be in the conversation that we're having about what's happening right now in the Middle East? BERDUGO: It's difficult to answer. A movie can have an aspect or an influence in a conflict. It' is a 60-years-old conflict. But after all this movie's demonstrating that any conflict is a result of the image, that each party have of the other party. And in fact that with the switch of baby, each party is forced to reconsider the image of the other. And it is clear that any war is illuminated (ph) by the image of the other, which in any war can be solved by the change of the image of the other. It has to be said - that Lorraine Levy was deeply in films by a very famous Israeli author, who is Amos Oz. And she actually asked us to read one of his books before the shooting. The shooting was made with a mixed team you know between Palestinian, Israeli and French people. And the atmosphere was extraordinary positive and harmonious during the shooting.

BLACKWELL: In this movie, these two young men who were switched at birth, they get to know each other and the ending scene is the two of them smiling with each other on a beach. I want to ask you something related to "The L.A. Times" review. They wrote "The Other Son", which is the name of this film, quite simply political correctness got the best of it. The French director is so focused on covering all the bases and insuring a sense of equal empathy and screen time for the plight of both families, she leaves the film struggling to get beyond a logjam of life lessons." Is this film maybe a little too politically correct? What's your response to that criticism?

BERDUGO: Of course, the film is a proposing an ideal vision of the situation, and there is no way that Lorraine Levy can be accused of certain naivete -- naive (inaudible) of this story. But it is -- the purpose was not to make a demonstration of what to do. You know, it's -- you have to admit that these two families are not extremist families. This is also important. So, I personally I feel that this could perfectly happen. It depends, of course, on the context. But if you take a moderate Israeli family and a moderate Muslim family from Palestine, you can perfectly achieve this goal. I don't think it's so unrealistic.

BLACKWELL: Raphael Berdugo, producer of "The Other Son." Of course, we know a movie can't change the history of decades, even longer, but we know that this can change our conversation about it. Thank you so much.

KAYE: It wasn't just lines at the cash register for Walmart shoppers on Black Friday. Hundreds protesting the company. But did it have any real effect?


KAYE: Good morning, Washington, D.C. Nice to have all you early birds awake. And starting your morning with us here on "Early Start Weekend."

BLACKWELL: Black Friday sales signs competed with those held by protesters on Friday. Hundreds speaking out against Walmart, calling on the company to provide better pay, better hours and health care for its employees. Walmart says the strike did not hurt its Black Friday sales. In fact, a spokesman called it "our best Black Friday ever."

Hostess, the company that makes the iconic treats like Twinkies and Ho-hos has been cleared for liquidation by a bankruptcy judge. The company CEO said it plans to lay off 15,000 workers this week. But the sweet treats will likely survive. Hostess is searching for buyers for its 30 brands and the other assets.

38 days. 38 days and we could be heading right over the edge of that fiscal cliff. While going over that cliff could mean billions reduced from the nation's debt, it could also mean another recession and massive unemployment. Joining me now is Ron Hart, managing director of wealth management from Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. Good morning.


KAYE: So, let's talk about the bottom line here, OK? A middle class family of four, why should they worry? Why should a family like that worry about the fiscal cliff?

HART: A family in Arkansas that makes $55,000 a year will pay $3,000 a year more in taxes under the fiscal cliff if it's fully implemented. That's a pretty big amount of money for an average family to absorb in a year. So, it slows the economy, it ripples through all parts of the United States. And we don't think it's going to happen fully. But if it were to happen, it would be pretty devastating to the U.S. economy.

KAYE: Yes, that is -- that is a lot of money for a lot of these families. But is everyone affected by this?

HART: Yes, 121 million taxpayers are effected, pretty much everyone, 90 percent of America is affected. The lowest tax bracket goes from ten percent to 15 percent, a 50 percent. That's a pretty big rise. So --

KAYE: Businesses certainly are watching the cliff closely. How would it affect American business if we did go over it?

HART: We think we would flirt with recession. Probably one percent off the GDP would come from it. It would cause unemployment to go higher which would hurt the nation. You know, so goes the business, so goes America as the old saying goes. It would hurt families in the ways that are untold if American corporations laid off more people and people got pink slips.

KAYE: Do you see any benefit at all?

HART: Getting our fiscal house in order. It's either now or later, all right, as we can't spend money at this trajectory forever. We have 16 trillion in debt. We have 99 trillion in unfunded liabilities with Medicare and Social Security. So, at some point, you think we got to do it now or we got to do it later, right?

KAYE: Absolutely. Clearly, though, concessions will certainly need to be made on both sides in this negotiation. What would you say each side needs to give up to make this happen to get this done? HART: Obviously, the Democrats have to give up entitlements to some degree, and the Republicans have to lighten up on this defense. We spend more than the top ten countries in the world on defense, over $1 trillion. So I think we can -- we spend six times more than China currently. So, like Russia may have done in the old days, we may spend ourselves into obsoletion (ph), because you just cannot contain to spend money that way.

KAYE: Yes, certainly not. But if we do avoid the cliff, I mean are we just in a way putting a Band-Aid on some of these bigger issues such as Social Security spending? I mean obviously, something needs to be done to fix this for the future.

HART: Right. And the conversation we are having is the priorities of our country, who pays for it and how much government do we really want? And that's the (inaudible), it's lining up Republicans on one side, the Democrats on the other. The differences have never been so stark. It's kind of a shirts and skins game in Washington, as you know. You've got -- and you've got 50/50, and this election was not exactly a mandate. It was a win.

KAYE: Yes.

HART: But not a mandate, you've got the same players in place, you've got Boehner and Cantor and McConnell, you've got Pelosi, Obama and Reid. So it's the same players.

KAYE: But you're confident that we'll get it done?

HART: I'm positive about the American people. I think we can make adjustments, I think at some point in time we have to do this. I'd rather ease into it than have some (inaudible) event that makes us have to do it. And we're thinking along the right ways right now. We've got do it at some point.

KAYE: All right. Ron Hart, nice to see you.

HART: Thank you.

KAYE: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: A four-hour run or 17 hours of yoga. Sound fun? Not to me. That's what experts say you would have to do to burn off the Thanksgiving calories. Does that sound fun? Again, think about it. 17 hours of yoga. Fitness and nutrition expert Mark MacDonald offers some alternatives.


BLACKWELL: Oh, we are giving thanks for the treadmill this holiday weekend.

KAYE: By some accounts, you would have to do some serious and I mean serious exercising just to burn off the calories packed into most Thanksgiving Day meals.

BLACKWELL: That's why our body fitness and nutrition expert Mark MacDonald is here.

KAYE: All right. So, Mark, good morning. This is some pretty heavy information here, all right? According to the American Council on Exercise, we cannot believe this.


KAYE: If you packed in about 3,000 calories for your Thanksgiving day meal, which is what like -- twice what most women should be eating.


KAYE: To burn off that, you would have to either run at a moderate pace for four hours, swim for five -- swim for five hours, walk 30 miles. 30 miles to burn off those calories. And the other option, of course, which we love -- which I love as a yoga fanatic is 17 hours of yoga --


KAYE: -- to burn that off.


KAYE: Now, there has to be another solution here, right? That is not natural.

MACDONALD: Who wants to do that. I mean that's -- I think that's what happens. You know, we feel bloated. We ate too much, and we just want to burn it off. But no one wants to do 17 hours of yoga.



MACDONALD: So, we just say -- we say I'll start on Monday. The biggest thing -- you just got to get on plan now. Make this week and get on plan. Instead of focusing on burning off everything now, if you just get on plan within the next 4 to 5 days, you'll burn off those calories and you - the bloat will be gone, and you'll feel great again.


MACDONALD: Just don't wait till Monday.


BLACKWELL: But that sounds great. But you got Aunt Bessie who is staying with you. You've got to go to the sales. There is a lot going on. How do you fit all that in now?

MACDONALD: Well, look, it's as simple as getting a football and going to the front lawn and playing a little catch.

BLACKWELL: Yes. MACDONALD: Oh, like if Randi and Victor sit up.


MACDONALD: He's got to tighten (inaudible) -- look, if your --

BLACKWELL: My posture is always bad.

MACDONALD: As you are doing your holiday decorating for the holidays, you can simply activate your core. You'll be burning more calories, you'll be burning those Thanksgiving calories. If you go holiday shopping in the mall, you know, Black Friday just happened.

KAYE: Put on those sneakers and walk into --

MACDONALD: And run up those escalators.

KAYE: Yes.

MACDONALD: Just the biggest thing is take the time you're in and make it fun and go for a family hike or walk, just enjoy it and get active.

KAYE: And when you're driving, keep that stomach tight.


BLACKWELL: I always have to sit like this to burn off pie.

MACDONALD: You know, you burn four times more calories by simply activating your core throughout the day.

BLACKWELL: All right. OK.

MACDONALD: That's a lot, right?

KAYE: Yes. You see, that's what it feels like.


MACDONALD: It's just working harder.

KAYE: So, what is the one biggest mistake, if you had to pick one that people make? I mean besides -- is that just overeating at this time of the year?

MACDONALD: The biggest mistake by like 1,000 fold is skipping meals. People get ready for Thanksgiving, they starve themselves all day --

KAYE: Right.

MACDONALD: -- and then they overeat. When you skip a meal, you burn muscle, which slows down your metabolism. And you go into the next meal craving carbohydrates. And you overeat, which makes you store fat. You've got to eat in threes, every three hours, and divide your plate in three. A third protein, a third fat, a third carb. If you do that through the holiday season, you're going to win, you're not going to gain the dreaded 15, and you are going to rock your body.

BLACKWELL: We talked about this during the break that you skipped meals until 2:00 yesterday.

KAYE: Well, yes, because that's how I know that I've overeaten. See, sharing all my dirty --

BLACKWELL: I love that.


KAYE: No, it's true. I knew I had overeaten the day before because I wasn't even hungry until 2:00 in the afternoon.


KAYE: So --

MACDONALD: So, this is what you do -- you just take a half a meal, and what will happen is your metabolism will start humming again. Skipping meals is the biggest mistake. If you don't skip meals, I guarantee you you're going to burn more fuel.

KAYE: All right. All right. Good to know. Mark as always.

BLACKWELL: Great stuff.

MACDONALD: No more skipping.

KAYE: OK, I promise.

BLACKWELL: And a Gangnam-style Christmas. You have to say it like that -- Gangnam-style. You have to see how this family synced up their holiday light show with that amazing song. One of my favorites for this season. We'll show it to you in a moment.



KAYE: Welcome back. 'Tis that time of year, families in the holiday spirit deck out their homes with fun and sometimes, shall we say, over the top light displays?

BLACKWELL: I love it.

KAYE: Some putting them to music even.

BLACKWELL: So, of course the homeowner in Texas went Gangnam style along with his Christmas lights. You got to say it that way.

KAYE: You don't really have to.

BLACKWELL: No, I think you do. Listen, this is why.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Gangnam style.



BLACKWELL: Yes. That is it.

KAYE: Yes, that's pretty good. You think like Psy lives in that house, right?

BLACKWELL: That's great. I love that song. I watched the video this morning just to get that extra move, the one where he goes to the side like that. That's the one I like. I'm not going to do it on camera now that we're back up from the video.

KAYE: OK. Good. Please don't.


KAYE: Well, thank you so much for starting your morning with us. Much more ahead.